Chipotle Sweet Pulled Pork (Cafe Rio Copycat)

Cafe Rio Sweet Pork like you’ve never had it before – AKA the real, juicy, saucy, sweet and spicy deal!

Cafe Rio Sweet Pork is one of the most tantalizing delicious Mexican meats on the planet – and now you can make it in the comfort of your own home and in the ease of your own slow cooker!  This tender, melt-in-your-mouth pulled pork with the perfect balance of sweet heat is SO wonderfully versatile and the perfect make-ahead meat for busy nights for tacos, salads, burritos, tostadas enchiladas, etc.   It’s also fabulous for crowds –  so fabulous I’ve included tips on how to make Cafe Rio Sweet Pork with a jumbo size Costo pork in the Notes!  (Recipe updated 5/1/2018)

up close of easy Cafe Rio Sweet Pork in a white bowl
I am helping with a youth church fundraiser on Cinco de Mayo and we are making a Cafe Rio taco bar with this Sweet Pork as the star – because it’s center stage delicious.  This recipe is on oldie but goodie so I thought it was time to republish new photos and add some tips and trick.  As you can read by the reviews, this is a beloved recipe by many and is even my mom’s favorite recipe to make for entertaining (even served to Elder Holland) and I ‘m sure it’s soon to be a new family favorite of yours too!

top shot of slow cooker cafe rio sweet pulled pork in crock pot with silver tongs

Cafe Rio Sweet Pulled Pork Recipe

Cafe Rio calls their Sweet Pork Barbacoa, “Our signature dish. Our crowning achievement. Our recipe royale!” If you have eaten at Cafe Rio, you’ve tasted exactly what they are talking about and why the small restaurant chain has a loyal following willing to drive hours to taste the juicy, flavorful, saucy, sweet and spicy sweet pork.

I wanted to do their sweet pork recipe justice so in preparation for this recipe, I looked up dozens of Cafe Rio Sweet Pork Recipes online and was surprised that all of them either added hardly any spice (like ¼ teaspoon garlic powder) or no spices all together.  Cafe Rios “signature blend of spices,” however, is crucial to the authentic taste of this recipe, so I’ve perfected the blend and now we have the perfect Cafe Rio Sweet Pork, in my humble opinion.  But don’t be afraid, this pork is not spicy, just exploding with flavorful.  I actually added hot sauce to mine but it was perfect for my parents.

up close of chipotle sweet pulled pork in a white bowl with cilantro

how to Make Cafe Rio Sweet Pork

I love making Mexican meats in my crock pot from my Mexican Chicken, to my Beef Barbacoa to my Carnitas, and this Cafe Rio Sweet Pork is no exception. It simmers low and slow all day, filling your home with its tantalizing aroma so come dinner time, you have endless possibilities to serve its juicy deliciousness. Here are a few tips and tricks to make your Chipotle Sweet Pulled Pork a runaway success:

spiced rubbed pork in crockpot making Cafe Rio sweet pulled pork
  1. Sear Meat:   When searing, the pork will naturally release from the pan once it is properly seared. If it is sticking to the bottom of the pan, it is most likely needs more time. It will take 2-5 minutes per side and longer if using a nonstick pan.
  2. Do I have to sear the meat?  As Gordon Ramsey says, “color  = flavor.”  Searing the meat creates the Maillard reaction resulting in rich, deep, complex flavor which cannot be achieved in any other way.  It also helps the inside of the meat from drying out.  You can skip this step, and your pork will still be good – just not as good.
  3. Spice Rub:  After we sear the meat, we rub it with our spice rub.  Instead of rubbing oil all over the meat, simply ladle some of the leftover juices/oil in the pan from searing.  If you skip searing your pork, you will need to rub it with some olive oil first so the spices stick.

 

  1. Cook until tender but not fall apart tender.  When your pork is tender enough shred into chunks but not fall apart tender, shred it into larger sections in the crock pot and continue to cook on LOW for 30 minutes until it is practically fall apart fork tender.  This allows the flavorful slow cooker contents to seep into every pork crevice without it becoming overcooked.
  2. Drain pork.  Once pork is tender, and ready to shred, I place my strainer on top of a large bowl to catch the slow cooker contents so the fat doesn’t go directly in my sink, then refrigerate the bowl and skim the fat later and ditch the rest in the sink sans fat.
  3. Add enchilada sauce and brown sugar to taste.  Once drained of excess liquid, we add our pork back to slow cooker along with enchilada sauce, brown sugar, green chiles and remaining spices.  Taste buds vary widely when it comes to how sweet people like their pork.  This Cafe Rio is supposed to be sweet – but just how sweet is up to you.  I recommend starting with ½ cup brown sugar and adding more to taste.  You can also add additional chipotle chili powder or hot sauce if you would like it spicier.  You can also add more or less enchilada sauce depending on how “saucy” you want your pork.

adding enchilada sauce to shredded chipotle pork in crockpot to make Cafe Rio Sweet Pulled Pork

HOW TO MAKE PULLED PORK AHEAD OF TIME

You can make this pork mostly the day before if that’s easier and then you don’t have to worry about cooking times and it turns out just as good – or better.  I use this method often and is my preferred method for meats that take particularly long like my Beef Brisket. 

If making ahead, make the Sweet Pork Recipe through step 5 in which you shred the pork into large sections.  After you do this, let your slow cooker sit at room temperature for a bit so the crockpot ceramic insert can cool down and then cover and place ceramic insert into fridge (PORK AND ALL THE LIQUID).  The next day, skim off the hardened fat from the top and heat on LOW for about 1- 1 ½ hours to heat through, then continue with the rest of the recipe as written.

up close of tongs picking up best cafe rio sweet pulled pork

What to Make with Cafe Rio Sweet Pulled Pork

There are soooo many options when it comes to this Slow Cooker Chipotle Sweet Pulled Pork.  I’m going to start with items directly off of the Cafe Rio Menu because they made the menu for a reason:

Cafe Rio Sweet Pork Salad:  Layer a large burrito size tortilla with cheese and melt.  Top with black or pinto beans, cilantro lime rice, sweet pork, and romaine lettuce.  Top with Pico de Gallo, guacamole, salsa tortilla strips, cilantro, cotija cheese and Tomatillo Avocado Ranch or leave out the Avocado and make it Tomatillo Ranch.

Cafe Rio Sweet Pork Burrito:  Layer a burrito size tortilla with cilantro lime rice or Mexican Rice, black or pinto beans, cheese, sweet pulled pork, then baked in an oven.  Serve with your favs of pico de gallo, romaine lettuce, guacamole, sour cream, homemade salsa, salsa verde. etc.

Cafe Rio Sweet Pork Enchiladas:  Fill corn tortillas with layers of cheese and sweet pork and topped with red or green enchilada sauce and cheese and bake.

Cafe Rio Sweet Pork Tacos: Pile a flour tortilla with sweet pork, Mexican cheese, lettuce and serve with your favs of pico de gallo, romaine lettuce, guacamole, sour cream. etc.

Cafe Rio Sweet Pork quesadillas:   Layer a burrito size tortilla  with Mexican cheese and sweet pork and grill until golden, cheesy perfection.  Serve with your favs of pico de gallo, romaine lettuce, guacamole, sour cream. etc.

Cafe Rio Sweet Pork Tostada:  Layer a A corn tortilla with sweet pork, cilantro lime rice, black or pinto beans, romaine lettuce, pico de gallo, tortilla strips, cilantro, sour cream, and cotija cheese. Drizzle with Tomatillo (Avocado) Ranch.

Cafe Rio Sweet Pork Nachos:  Pile thick restaurant style tortilla chips with Mexican cheeses or chile con queso, sweet pork, black or pinto beans, pico de gallo, sour cream, and fresh guacamole.

No matter how you choose to serve your Cafe Rio Sweet Pork they all will taste AMAZING because they include this pork!

far away shot of Best Cafe Rio Sweet Pulled Pork in a white bowl with gold tongs

Looking for more Pork Recipes?     

up close of Best Cafe Rio Sweet Pork in a white bowl

 

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©Carlsbad Cravings by CarlsbadCravings.com

side shot of Best Cafe Rio Sweet Pulled Pork in a white bowl with cilantro

Cafe Rio Sweet Pulled Pork

Cafe Rio Sweet Pulled Pork like you’ve never had it before – AKA the real, juicy, saucy, sweet and spicy deal! Cafe Rio Sweet Pork is on of the most tantalizing delicious Mexican meats on the planet – and now you can make it in the comfort of your own home and in the ease of your own slow cooker!  This melt-in-your-mouth sweet pork is wonderfully versatile and the perfect make-ahead meat for tacos, salads, burritos, tostadas enchiladas, etc.   It’s also fabulous for crowds and entertaining!
Servings: 12 servings
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 8 hours

Ingredients

Mixed Spices

  • 4-5 lbs boneless pork shoulder (pork butt) trimmed of excess fat
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 1/2 TBS EACH chili pwdr, garlic pwdr
  • 1 ½ – 2 teaspoons chipotle chili powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp EACH salt, onion pwdr, smoked paprika, cumin
  • 3/4 teaspoon pepper

Slow Cooker Phase 1

  • 3/4 cup Coke, NOT diet
  • 1/2 cup mild salsa
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 4 oz. can mild diced green chilies

Slow Cooker Phase 2

  • 3/4 cup mild red enchilada sauce
  • 1/2-3/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 4 oz. can mild diced green chilies
  • All remaining Mixed Spices
  • salt to taste
  • Hot sauce to taste

Instructions

  • Mix all of the Mixed Spices together in a resealable container. Set aside. Lightly grease slow cooker with nonstick cooking spray. Set aside.
  • Heat 2 tablespoon vegetable oil in Dutch oven, cast iron or stainless steel skillet (you can use nonstick but it will just take longer) over medium-high heat. Using tongs or 2 forks, sear pork on all sides until lightly browned.
  • Transfer pork to slow cooker. Ladle a spoonful of the pan juices over the meat so the spices will stick. Separate out 1 ½ tablespoons spices to use after the pork is cooked. Rub all remaining spices evenly over all sides of pork (it will seem like a lot but use all of it).
  • Add all Slow Cooker Phase 1 Ingredients to the pork. Cook on LOW for 6-8 hours or until pork is tender enough to shred. Shred pork into larger sections in crock pot and continue to cook on LOW for 30 minutes.
  • Transfer all of the slow cooker contents to a strainer to drain off excess liquid from pork. Transfer pork to cutting board and shred into smaller pieces and discard any excess fat.
  • Add pork back to slow cooker (along with any accumulated green chiles, etc.) then stir in all of Phase 2 ingredients starting with just ½ cup brown sugar. Cook another 15-30 minutes on LOW or until heated through OR just keep on the warm setting if you aren’t serving immediately. Taste and add additional brown sugar for sweeter, hot sauce for spicier or more enchilada sauce for saucier.
  • Serve in tacos, enchiladas, burrito bowls, etc. with Tomatillo Avocado Ranch Dressing.

Notes

 
  1. Sear Meat:   When searing, the pork will naturally release from the pan once it is properly seared. If it is sticking to the bottom of the pan, it is most likely needs more time. It will take 2-5 minutes per side and longer if using a nonstick pan.
  2. Do I have to sear the meat?  As Gordon Ramsey says, “color  – flavor.”  Searing the meat creates the Maillard reaction resulting in rich, deep, complex flavor which cannot be achieved in any other way.  It also helps the inside of the meat from drying out.  You can skip this step, and your pork will still be good – just not as good.
  3. Spice Rub:   If you skip searing your pork, you will need to rub it with some olive oil first so the spices stick.
  4. Cook until tender but not fall apart tender.  When your pork is tender enough shred but not fall apart tender, shred it into larger sections in the crock pot and continue to cook on LOW for 30 minutes until it is practically fall apart fork tender.  This allows the flavorful slow cooker contents to seep into every pork crevice without it becoming overcooked.
  5. Drain pork.  Once pork is tender, and ready to shred, I place my strainer on top of a large bowl to catch the slow cooker contents so the fat doesn’t go directly in my sink, then refrigerate the bowl and skim the fat later and ditch the rest in the sink sans fat.
  6. Add enchilada sauce and brown sugar to taste.    Taste buds vary widely when it comes to how sweet people like their pork.  This Cafe Rio is supposed to be sweet – but just how sweet is up to you.  I recommend starting with ½ cup brown sugar and adding more to taste.  You can also add additional chipotle chili powder or hot sauce if you would like it spicier.  You also add more or less enchilada sauce depending on how “saucy” you want your pork.

HOW TO MAKE PULLED PORK AHEAD OF TIME

You can make this pork mostly the day before if that’s easier and then you don’t have to worry about cooking times and it turns out just as good – or better.  If making ahead, make the recipe through step 5 in which you shred the pork into large sections.  After you do this, let slow cooker sit at room temperature for a bit so the crockpot ceramic insert can cool down and then cover and place ceramic insert into fridge (PORK AND ALL THE LIQUID).  The next day, skim off the hardened fat from the top and heat on LOW for about 1- 1 ½ hours to heat through, then continue with the rest of the recipe as written.

HOW TO COOK LARGER COSTCO PORK

I often purchase my pork shoulder from Costco.  Each pork shoulder package is approximately 16 pounds and contains 2 7-8 pound halves. For convenience I like to cook the entire half so I wanted to include instructions for Costco pork.  It is generally the same with these exceptions (and below measurements).
  • You will separate out 2 tablespoons (instead of 1 1/2) Spice Mix to add to the pork in Phase 2.
  • The cooking time might increase by one hour.  My Costco pork generally takes 8 hours.
  • To cook one of these halves, the adjusted measurements are as follows:
COSTCO PORK
  • (7-9 pounds) boneless pork shoulder/butt (half package from Costco)
Mixed Spices
  • 2 TBS EACH chili powder, garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon chipotle chili powder
  • 2 tsp EACH salt, onion powder, smoked paprika, ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
Slow Cooker Phase 1
  • 1 cup coke – NOT DIET
  • ¾ cup mild salsa
  • ¾ cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 (4 oz.) can mild diced green chilies
Slow Cooker Phase 2
  • 1 10 oz. can mild red enchilada sauce
  • 3/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 (4 oz.) can mild diced green chilies
  • All remaining Mixed Spices (2 tablespoons)
 

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99 Comments

  1. stephanie says

    Can I live with you for a month so you can just cook and feed me. I will be trying this very soon

    • Jen says

      LOL! Sounds like a party 🙂

    • Jen says

      Thanks so much Melanie! Its super flavorful, I think you will love it 🙂

  2. Rachael says

    You are like the Mexican food cooking queen. I love Cafe Rio, like so much that I budget for it. At Christmas they offer a free meal card with every $25 gift card purchase. So I buy GC’s for any gift I can get away with, teachers, neighbors, family friends, and then keep the free meal card for myself. It is bad. Addiction level. I have tried a few copy cats, without satisfaction. So I guess I will have to try yours. I am so excited!

    • Jen says

      LOL! Well, it sounds like a delicious addiction to me 🙂 I don’t know how close mine is, but I know it is super flavorful. Can’t wait to hear what you think!

  3. Mary Ellen says

    Wow Jen, this looks amazing! A must try for sure. I agree with Rachael you are the Mexican cooking queen!

    • Jen says

      Thanks Mary Ellen, I just crave Mexican so I have to cook Mexican – a lot 🙂

  4. shelby says

    Do you know I want to eat everything you make! LOL This looks amazing and I must try it! I was just saying I needed to use my slow cooker more so I just found what I’m going to use in it first!

    • Jen says

      You are so sweet Shelby, the feeling is mutual! We need to be neighbors 🙂

    • Jen says

      Thanks Renee, it is definitely a keeper!

  5. Valerie | From Valerie's Kitchen says

    I know this would be amazing. I can tell from that fabulous list of ingredients! Pinning! Hearing about your health struggles makes me realize how much we all take our health for granted. I’m so happy to know the surgeries have improved how you feel to such a big degree. It’s totally inspirational!

    • Jen says

      You are so sweet Valerie, thank you so much! I think we all take our health/blessings for granted at times but I believe being grateful definitely is the key to happiness. Thank you for your kind words!

  6. Kimberly says

    Had this for dinner Sunday night and it was the best shredded pork we’d ever had- we all loved it – so flavorful!
    Cafe Rio is a little too sweet for me (gasp!) and I since used root beer instead of coke because it was what I had I decreased the sugar just a tad. I love the smokiness from the chipotle chili powder and smoked paprika. Yum!

    • Jen says

      I am so flattered this is the best shredded pork you ever had! Thank you for the awesome compliment Kim! So happy everyone loved it and that the Root Beer worked out well. Thanks! Now you need to try the pizza 🙂

  7. kathryn wade says

    The chipolte pork recipe is awesome and amazing! Made it 3 times in 2 weeks and everyone but me has gotten to enjoy it. the next time I am hiding it for me and my husband! Thank you so much. I hope your health is improving daily. Hugs, Kathryn

    • Jen says

      Hi Kathryn, I love to hear that this chipotle pork is such a hit! 3 times in 2 weeks is quite a compliment 🙂 I hope you are able to successfully hide a healthy portion for you and your husband next time around – or maybe the whole thing! Thanks so much for your kind words regarding my health – I am doing great! just celebrated my 1 year kidney transplant anniversary 🙂 Thanks again and I hope you continue to enjoy more of my recipes!

  8. Jen says

    Your recipe looks great. I am staying away from sodas and wondering what other liquid I could use instead of the Coke?

    • Jen says

      Hi Jen! Coke has a pretty complex flavor profile, plus the sugar, plus acids (to tenderize) – but I would normally suggest another soda- so I am kind of stumped. My only thought is possibly sweet tea? Good luck!

  9. tam says

    Oh this was SO yummy! Thanks for sharing your recipe!

    • Jen says

      YAY! I am so happy you loved it Tam, that makes me so happy! Thanks for your thanks :)!

  10. Erin says

    Made this the other night. Fabulous. So fabulous. I say better than cafe rio. Love how heavy handed you are with the spices. My kinda cookin! 🙂

    • Jen says

      Wow, Erin, thanks for the amazing compliment! I love me some spices so I am so happy you love it too! Thanks for trying so many of my recipes, that makes me happy you are enjoying them! Remember when we used to talk about cooking forever in our driveways? Good times 🙂

  11. Shar says

    Hello! I’m going to try this recipe for the first time with my dinner group. I’m wondering about portions – I’m cooking for 8 adults and 12 young kids (20 total). Do you think i need to double or triple this recipe? I have a large crockpot but I’m assuming I will need to use at least two crockpots. I’d love to get your thoughts on cooking for this size of a group. (Maybe I shouldn’t be trying something I’ve never done for that many people. ha ha ha.)

    Thank you!

    • Jen says

      Hi Shar! There are a few variables on how many this will feed such as how big of eaters the adults/children are and how many sides there will be, etc. To be safe, I would triple the recipe, assuming the adults are going to want seconds. I always like to be safe than sorry and this meal is wonderful if there are leftovers and great to freeze too – but it probably won’t come to that 🙂 I hope that helps! Good luck, have fun and enjoy!

  12. Anna Joy says

    Jen, I made this recipe for my husband, brother, and sister-in-law. They all loved it! It is really unique served with the Tomatillo Avocado Ranch, and if anyone is looking at these comments and thinking of making this pork – do make the Tomatillo Avocado Ranch as well. I didn’t have a tomatillo on hand, but the dressing was still great without it. Thanks for the excellent recipe!

    • Jen says

      Hi Anna, I am so happy your family loved this! And thank you so much for commenting/endorsing the Tomatillo Avocado Ranch because I, too, totally believe they belong together! I hope you find more recipes to love here!

  13. Amanda says

    Have you ever made it without marinading it?

    • Jen says

      Hi Amanda, I have never made it without marinating it but I imagine it could be done – would still be good but maybe not the “best” 🙂

  14. Amanda Z says

    I just made this recipe tonight and WOW! It was amazing! Sweet, spicy, smoky, it had it all!! I can easily say this was the best pulled pork I have ever made. Silence at the table as we devoured this only pausing to say how delicious it was. I am a loyal follower of your blog now and have already printed several recipes to try! Thanks for such a great dinner!

    • Jen says

      Hi Amanda, I am so happy your whole family loved it and I am so honored it is the “best” pulled pork you have ever made = yay!!! I am excited for you to try my other recipes – I hope you love them just as much! Thank you for following my site! Have a great weekend!

  15. Kat says

    I was just wondering how spicy this recipe is? A lot of people in my family have issues with spicy food and I REALLY want to try this, without killing them.lol

    • Jen says

      LOL! I totally hear ya! My mom is the same way (CANNOT do any spice) and she LOVES this recipe – serves to all her company but she uses 1 teaspoon chipotle chili powder then provides hot sauce for everyone. I would recommend using 1 teaspoon chipotle chili powder and then stirring in more to taste at the very end of cooking if you want it spicer. Enjoy!

  16. Lisa says

    Hey, do you think I can use diet coke?? That’s all I have on hand…. Thank you!!

    • Jen says

      Hi Lisa! Unfortunately, diet coke will NOT work in this recipe. The artificial sweeteners break down with heat exposure and leave a weird chemically taste and even foam sometimes. Sorry!

      • Lisa says

        I didn’t think so 🙂 Thank you so much for getting back to me!

  17. Dorothy Dunton says

    Hi Jen! Chipotle is one of my favorite spices! This would also be good on a bun (or a fork)! 🙂 I’ve had several surgeries, not nearly as serious as yours, and my thought was the same!

    • Jen says

      Thanks Dorothy, sound like we are kindred spirits in more ways than one 🙂 If you love chipotle, then I think you will especially love this! Its my mom’s Go-To whenever she has company over! xoxo

  18. Adrianne says

    I made this tonight, and it was by far, the best pulled pork I ever made. I almost skipped Slow Cooker Phase 2 because it was so good after Phase 1, but I finished it and I’m glad I did. Thanks for a keeper recipe.

    • Jen says

      You are so welcome Adrianne, thank YOU for taking the time to comment! I am thrilled you loved it so much! I hope you find more recipes to love here!

  19. Theresa M. says

    This looks really, really good! I have a question about the green chiles; do you drain them before adding them to the slow cooker or do you add the liquid as well?

    • Jen says

      Hi Theresa! You just add the whole can of green chilies. Enjoy!

  20. Koree says

    Thank you, Jen, for making me look like a rockstar, once again!! I made this along with your Tomatillo Avocado Ranch Dressing and your One Pot Cilantro Lime Rice for a get together. Everything turned out so good & I got so many compliments!! I doubled the recipe for a 5.5 lb bone in pork shoulder. It was so tender, flavorful, and delicious!! This will definitely be my new go to pulled pork recipe!! Thanks again!!

    • Jen says

      YAY for rockstar status :)! I love that you also paired it with the Tomatillo Avocado Ranch and Cilantro Lime Rice – SO GOOD! I am drooling just thinking about it 🙂 I am thrilled everything turned out so well and everyone loved it! Thank you for making my day Koree!

  21. Julie says

    This is seriously some of the BEST Mexican pork I’ve had! And it’s made at home BONUS!!! Thank you for the recipe- keep them coming!!!

    • Jen says

      YAY! Thank you so much Julie for the ultimate compliment! I am thrilled you loved this pork so much! I will definitely keep the recipes coming – I just can’t help myself 🙂 Have a fabulous weekend!

  22. Sarah says

    Is there a way to cook this in the oven? Or maybe on the stove in a stock pot? I left my slow cooker at a friends but I really want to make this!

    • Jen says

      Hi Sarah, my apologies as I thought I answered this comment but apparently not! I have never made this in the oven but I would suggest searing the roast on all sides, adding it to a roasting pan, cover with foil, then bake for 30 minutes at 425 F then turn the oven down to 300 and continue to roast until its fall apart tender, not sure exactly how long that will be as I haven’t done it before but probably 4-6 hours. Best of luck!

  23. Joanne Shipley says

    Jen, This recipe is a new family favorite. It is DELICIOUS!! I am cooking some right now to freeze for a family gathering next weekend. I have made it several times. I seriously have a notebook filled with your recipes. Every one that I have tried is a keeper. You have a gift to be able to put all these flavors together.

    • Jen says

      You are too kind Joanne, thank you! I am thrilled this is a family favorite recipe and so flattered you have a notebook of my recipes – seriously made my day hearing that! I hope you have a wonderful family get together full of lots of great food 🙂

  24. Kara says

    Are you tired of my comments? Lol! This pork was seriously amazing!! It was SO incredibly delicious! I also made your Mexican Fries…also awesome! We made California Burritos, and my family is in love. 🙂 I am extremely glad I found your website…I’ve made at least one of your recipes every night, and I’ve been so impressed with every one of them! Thank you, thank you for sharing!

    • Jen says

      Never! I absolutely love your comments and am grateful you take the time to comment! I LOVE hearing that you have made at least one of my recipes every night – that is amazing! So happy this was another winner and yay for making California burritos out of it -yum!!!! Thanks Kara!

  25. Rachel says

    I am looking forward to trying this! We made your shredded Mexican chicken for the smothered burritos and found it to be way too sweet, even after cutting back the sugar. The flavor was SO GOOD, but we had a hard time with the sweetness, so will eliminate sugar next time. This pork recipe makes me nervous. Is it very sweet? Could I leave out a good deal of the sugar and get the same results? Thanks so much for sharing your recipes!

    • Jen says

      Hi Rachel, this recipe is sweet and spicy so if you don’t like sweet, then you can definitely add the sugar to taste at the end. Hope that helps!

      • Rachel says

        Thank you so much! Can’t wait to try it! 🙂

  26. Alisa says

    I love Mexican food, New Mexican food in particular. This will help me with my cravings until i can make it to Albuquerque.

    • Jen says

      Mexican food is the best!!! I crave it constantly as well- I hope you love this recipe!

  27. Nicole says

    I’ve made this at least 10 times, and it is not only my favorite crockpot meal, but my favorite meal altogether. I serve with corn torts, shredded cabbage and cilantro, and my sauce (which i’m sure isn’t as good as yours) of sour cream, green sauce and lime juice. This is the BEST. THE. BEST.

    • Jen says

      That is amazing you have made this recipe at least 10 times – you must be more of an expert at it by now than me! I am thrilled you love it so much! Thank you, thank you!

  28. Marj says

    ABSOLUTELY DELICIOUS!!! Made it, loved it and used it on soft flour tortillas with the tomatillo avocado ranch and lettuce and tomatoes. Served them with Mexican Street Corn on the Cob….yum yum yum. Definitely a keeper recipe that I will make again and again!!

    • Jen says

      Awesome Marj, I am thrilled this was such a hit and a new keeper! I was salivating as you described your meal – sounds delicious! Thank you so much for taking the time to comment and for making my recipes!

  29. Ruth says

    I like your recipe, I am Mexican, always trying to plan meals because it makes things easier, but life often gets in the way!Thanks for sharing.

    • Jen says

      You are so welcome! I’m so happy you are enjoying my recipes, thank you!

  30. Andrea says

    Just tried this… I forgot a few ingredients and didn’t get to cook on low 6-8 hours but on high for 4-5 or so instead but it was delicious! I can’t wait to try it correctly with all the ingredients with some mexican food sides on tortillas next time with the tomatillo avocado ranch dressing! MMM! This time we had it on buns with mashed potatoes, corn and salad! Was delicious! Thanks for sharing! 🙂

    • Jen says

      Hi Andrea, sorry for the delay as I am way behind after recovering from pneumonia, but I so appreciate your comment! I am so happy this turned out even with modified ingredients/marinating time and I am excited for you to try it with the Tomatilla Avocado Ranch – my fav!

  31. Debi Calimlin says

    Awesome Jen. I love Cafe Rio and I like your recipe. I will try make it tomorrow.

    • Jen says

      Sorry for the delay Debi as I am way behind after recovering from pneumonia but thanks for taking the time to commennt! I hope you loved this recipe!

  32. Sheryl Pagenstecher says

    This was SO good! I have made at least 4 other versions, (most call it a knock off from Cafe Rio)…but since I haven’t had either in the real…I have to go by good taste! The other versions don’t hold a candle to yours…it IS all about the spices and seasonings. YOU nailed it! I did add a TBS. of Lawry’s Chile and Garlic seasoning also. LOVED this…it is now my GO TO sweet pork recipe!

    • Jen says

      Awesome Sheryl! I am honored this is the best recipe you’ve found after trying so many other versions, thank you so much! I hope you continue to find more recipes to love here!

  33. Julie says

    Hi Jen! This looks so good…planning to make it next week but have two questions. What kind of chipotle chili powder do you use? I have a jar of Penzeys ground Chipotle Pepper but I was told that is different than chipotle chili powder.

    Also, if I wanted to cut back on sweetness would you recommend maybe omitting the brown sugar in phase two and leaving everything else the same?

    Thank you so much!!

    • Jen says

      Hi Julie! Yes, ground chipotle pepper is the same as chipotle chili powder – so you are good to go! As far as making it less sweet, yes, I would omit the brown sugar in phase 2 and then you can add always add some to taste at the every end if you decide it needs it. Enjoy!

      • Julie says

        Thank you! You are the absolute best blogger about responding to comments/questions…and quickly! Also, I always check here first for any meat recipes as you use spices/seasonings EXACTLY the way I like to. I know this pork will be as delicious as your Mexican shredded chicken, slow cooker French Dips, etc. Thanks again!

        • Jen says

          What a kind response Julie, thank you so much! I’m thrilled you are loving me recipes – it sounds like we are “foodie kindred spirits” with the same flavor palate!

  34. Natasha says

    This is my second time making the recipe and it does not disappoint. I don’t add the brown sugar in Phase 2. instead, I add about 1/2 a jalapeno. Our family likes more spice than sweet!! 🙂 Thank you for sharing such great recipes.

    • Jen says

      You are so welcome Natasha and I’m glad you have found the perfect adaptation for your family! Thank you for taking the time to comment! Happy New Year!

  35. Chris P. says

    Hi Jen,

    Looking forward to making this, (I have a pork sholder in the fridge from Costco, perfect timing). Can I do this in my Instant Pot? (sorry if someone else asked this question, I skimmed the Comments and didn’t see it).

    Thank YOU!

    • Jen says

      I am sure you can Chris but unfortunately I don’t have an instant pot so I can’t tell you how – sorry!

  36. Kathy S Dixon says

    I made this on Wednesday and served with the Tomatillo Avocado Ranch Dressing. My boyfriend said it’s bursting with flavor – something he’s never said before. I agree, it’s really, really delicious. I will absolutely make this again. Thanks for posting the recipe.

    • Jen says

      You are so welcome Kathy, I’m thrilled it was a hit and flavorful enough to impress your boyfriend! I looove it with the Tomatillo Avocado Ranch so I’m so happy you paired them together!

  37. Megan says

    Thank you so much for putting up the original! This has been one of my families favorite pork meals and I was so confused as to what happened to it! We love your recipes and use them all the time!

    • Jen says

      So happy you are loving them, thanks Megan!

  38. Autumn Cruz says

    I also loved the original recipe and if I followed that and marinated it, could I still sear it?

  39. Elaina says

    I’ve made this several times, adjusting slightly (less coke, no sugar, adding chipotle & adobo) to our tastes and cooking in an Instantpot at elevation. I serve it with your deliciously fresh Avocado Tomatillo Ranch sauce and get rave reviews every time! Thank you so much for sharing and all the work you put into your recipes!

    • Jen says

      You are so welcome Elaina, thank YOU for such a kind comment! I love hearing you are enjoying my recipes and have made this several times! And you are so right- it is perfect with the Avocado Tomatillo Ranch!

  40. Stephanie says

    Hi Jen! I’ve been eyeing this recipe for a while (I usually use your pulled pork recipe from your MIL) and while I LOVE chipotle, my husbands stomach has been reacting to spicy foods lately and I now have a one year old, so I was just curious how spicy this recipe is? I know it’s called SWEET so I wouldn’t expect it to be overly spicy but before I make a large amount of this I wanted to make sure that it’s okay for my daughter to eat 🙂

    • Jen says

      Hi Stephanie, I would use 1 teaspoon chipotle powder and that way it definitely won’t be to spicy. You can always add hot sauce later if needed. Enjoy!

      • Stephanie says

        I used the 1 teaspoon of chipotle as you instructed and it was so so so yummy! I live in Canada so have never been to cafe rio but this pork is amazing! Definitely my new go to pulled pork recipe 🙂 I love the saucy side with the enchilada sauce! My husband and daughter both loved it as well.

        • Jen says

          Oh good, I’m glad 1 tsp was the perfect amount of heat for you and that it was a hit with the fam! Thanks so much!

  41. April Zeiher says

    OMG this recipe is the best! I could make this every week. Sadly my store doesn’t always carry poblanos or fresh tomatillos! I make it when they do carry the poblanos for the salsa and then use jarred tomatillo green salsa for the sauce! This is a becoming a weekly meal in our house for sure!

    • Jen says

      YAY! Thanks so much April! I’m so pleased this is such a family favorite!

  42. Natalie says

    I made this yesterday exactly as it was written and WOW!!! Absolutely delicious! We had tacos with it and my picky 12yr old kept going back for more. I had to stop them so we’d have leftovers lol. Making enchiladas with them tonight. Next time I’ll buy a bigger piece of meat. It’s a little work but totally worth it. Thank you for a keeper! 🙂 p.s. seasonings were spot on.

    • Jen says

      Thanks for making my day Natalie, I’m thrilled even your picky eater loved the pulled pork! I also love having leftovers – so much you can do with it!

  43. lisa p says

    This recipe is SO GOOD!!! I made it for a group of 6 and they kept going back for seconds resulting in NO leftovers. Everyone was talking about it all weekend! The spices compliment each other so well and the tender slow cook of the pork absorbing all of those flavors is absolutely worth the wait. Makes the house smell incredible. I can’t wait to make it again! 🙂

    • Jen says

      Thanks so much for your awesome comment Lisa! I’m thrilled it was such a hit with everyone and is going to be a repeat favorite!

  44. Laura says

    This recipe is just perfect! We love it and have made it 3 times now!! Also want to let you know we have made so many other of your recipes (lemon garlic salmon, best pulled pork, tomatillo ranch, soy cashew salmon, just to name a few off the top of my head!) I don’t use google or Allrecipes as my go-to anymore, I just come to your website to find new recipes! Thanks for being such an inspiration to try new flavors and use lots of spices! I am so thankful I found your website!
    Laura

    • Jen says

      Thank you so much Laura for making my day and taking the time to comment! I’m thrilled this recipe is a winner and you have loved so many others! I am honored I have become your go-to recipe source – the ultimate compliment! xoxox